Turrón de Chocolate y Almendras

Though all kinds of desserts have been added to the Nochebuena, from flans and yemitas to all-American apple pie, there is nothing more traditional to a Cuban nochebuena feast than a platter of turrones. Until this year, I assumed that turrones sprouted already boxed from a Sanchis Mira tree somewhere in Spain before being shipped to Miami grocery stores. Deciding to make my own, I tried a few versions of a chocolate almond turrón flavored with orange liqueur before finding one that I liked. It was so easy that I plan on making a few batches this year to give as gifts. But just a few, I’d hate to get a reputation.

Ingredients:
250 grams bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% percent)
40 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
115 grams slivered almonds
1-2 tablespoons, Grand Marnier liqueur
Zest of 1 orange
* Note: While I used almonds and orange liqueur, any combination of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or dried fruits will also work well.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spread almonds in an even layer on baking sheet and toast till lightly golden, 3-5 minutes. Cool on a rack and roughly chop. Set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl over simmering water. Add the butter one tablespoon at time blending well after each addition.
3. Remove from heat and mix in almonds, liquor, and zest until well combined.
4. Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil. Pour in chocolate mixture and smooth top. Refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Chop and serve.

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